(NaturalHealth365) In modern times the health benefits of green tea are well documented. Because of this, yerba mate is sometimes called the “green tea of the South America.” This label, of course, has led to some confusion about the origins of the drink.
Especially for those who are on a healing journey with breast cancer (or any kind of cancer), it is important to know the facts when it comes to what yerba mate is and what it is not.
So, let’s take a closer look …
Yerba mate is NOT Green Tea
The drink called yerba mate is consumed in abundance in South America, especially in Argentina and Paraguay. Most individuals in those countries drink it using a gourd and bombilla. For centuries, mate has been a drink of choice by the native tribes in the southern hemisphere, especially the Ache’ Guayaki tribe, who revere it for its energizing and healing properties.
First of all, yerba mate comes from a completely different plant than green tea; it is derived from the South American rainforest holly tree (llex paraguariensis). Like green tea and other naturally-energizing substances, yerba mate contains caffeine, although its caffeine level is higher than most green teas, weighing in somewhere between tea and coffee.
Proponents of yerba mate cite that it contains 24 essential vitamins and minerals and 15 amino acids.
The most significant benefit of yerba mate appears to be in the way it can help metabolize fat and fight obesity. One joint study conducted in part by the University of Washington found that a blend called “UP601,” which consisted of Yerba mate, white mulberry, and Chinese magnolia (Magnolia officinalis) was effective at reducing mesenteric fat deposits in laboratory mice by 89.1 percent after 7 weeks of use.
And, just so you know, mesenteric fat has been linked to fatty liver disease and, in turn, cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Other health benefits attributed to yerba mate include antioxidant effects, the promotion of a healthy GI tract, heart health, lower LDL levels, lower blood pressure, anti-inflammatory properties and increased mental clarity.
Studies show cancer risks as well as benefits from drinking mate
A look at the sometimes-conflicting research around yerba mate and cancer shows that it is a bit of a double-edged sword.
A 2010 French study found that yerba mate drinkers had a higher risk of esophageal cancer and that the raised risk was most noticeable in regular yerba mate drinkers who were not smokers nor consumers of alcoholic beverages. Another study proposed that higher risks for esophagus, larynx, and oral cavity cancers amongst mate drinkers had to do with the temperature at which the drink was consumed.
And while there was a higher risk for hot mate’ drinkers, there was no increased risk amongst cold drinkers.
The cancer risks that drinking yerba mate present may have to do with the fact that yerba mate contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), also found in tobacco smoke and grilled meat. PAHs are known carcinogens.
On the other side of the spectrum, a recent study from the University of Illinois found that some of the compounds found in yerba mate can have an inhibitive effect on colon cancer cells, causing them to self-destruct.
For cancer prevention, stick with matcha green tea
Well-known integrative physician and mind-body expert Andrew Weil, MD weighs in about yerba mate by saying: “I’ve seen no research suggesting that drinking the tea occasionally is in any way dangerous.”
That being said, if you want to be on the safe side, I suggest sticking with a TRUE form of green tea that has a long list of positive health benefits and no side effects nor links to possible cancer-causing substances. This drink, of course, is matcha green tea.
Matcha means “powdered tea” and has a long history of use in Japanese tea ceremonies. In matcha, the whole leaf is consumed (in powder form) and it is usually frothed into a thick, full-bodied drink.
The real miracle of matcha, however, is how it targets cancer cells as well as cancer stem cells in human breast cancer cell lines. According to a 2003 study published by the University of Colorado, matcha contains 137 times more Epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, than regular green tea.
EGCG is a powerful antioxidant and a known natural anti-cancer agent. It contains anti-inflammatory properties, has been known to mediate aggressive estrogen in breast tissue, can create cancer tumor apoptosis and has been shown to suppress blood flow to tumors, in several breast cancer studies.
So for an occasional treat, if you happen to like the particular “smoky” flavor that yerba mate provides or you are traveling in South America and want to enjoy the local libations, an occasional cup (or gourd y bombilla) of mate probably wouldn’t hurt – and will more than likely will give you a happy lift.
If you are on a healing journey with any form of cancer, however, it is best to stick with the known cancer-preventative and cancer healing effects of matcha green tea.
About the author: Dr. Veronique Desaulniers (“Dr. V”) is a best-selling author and specialist in Chiropractic, Bio-Energetics, Meridian Stress Analysis, Homeopathy and Digital Thermography. After 30 years in active practice, she decided to “retire” and devote her time to sharing her personal, non-toxic Breast Cancer healing journey with others. Her years of experience and research have culminated in “The 7 Essentials™ “, a step-by-step coaching program that unravels the mystery of healing the body. Her website and personal healing journey have touched the lives of thousands of women around the globe. To get your F.R.E.E. 7-day mini e-course and to receive her weekly inspiring articles on the power of natural medicine – visit: BreastCancerConqueror.com